Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Vacuum

It is snowing. Mark came home for lunch whistling "Walking In a Winter Wonderland." He is unfailingly cheerful. I hate him...frequently.

I have been thinking of many things. Fear, inertia, false expectations and cabbages and kings. I am stressing about our upcoming trip to Montana. Gobs of stuff to do. I usually let all the tasks I set for myself overwhelm and immobilize me. Then I try to do everything at the last minute. I eat the whole way through. This morning I noticed the overwhelmedness (my new word) has a physical component. It feels like a vacuum in my chest. Vacuum in the sense of suck up every particle of food in sight, and vacuum in the sense of hollow. This feeling scares me, or it is fear, I'm not sure which. I try to push it away or down with food. But there is not enough food in the western world to fill this fear full hole. I usually feel like crying along with the vacuum feeling. What I want is to be free of the overwhelmedness. I want to be at peace. Recall my prayer chair.

Aunt Wilma taught me the mechanics of overwhelmedness. She did not believe in slowing down, for anything. She would get overwhelmed and then just keep on pushing, screaming the whole way. This morning I decided to try a different track. I wanted peace. A relief from the fear of not meeting my own expectations. Remember if everything is not perfect I will be punished. (The jury is still out on who will do the punishing.) So I went to my prayer chair and sat for an hour. I did devotions and read a book. I let my mind wander right up into the midst of the fear. I looked at the consequences of not accomplishing all the stuff I think needs to be done before we leave. Not a dire thing in the whole bunch. This lessened much of the fear. After sitting there for my hour I got up and did the thing that was scaring me the most. I was going to put it off and have a sandwich, but changed my mind. Once the worst was over the rest did not seem so bad. I have not felt pushed to get stuff done, and I have accomplished a fair amount. I also let go of the fantasy of cleaning the entire house before we left. Yes it would be wonderful to come home to a clean house, but not at the price I would have to pay to get it cleaned. This decision freed me up to do more important stuff. What a day I'm having.

So, what have I learned? First, when that vacuum feeling starts, I need to feed my soul. It is empty and scared and needs to be stoked and loved before I can get anything else done. This is not procrastination, it is prevention. Second, MOVE. Start with the scariest/hardest thing and get it done. Like birth, once the head is out, it is all downhill from there.

This has been a darn good day, even if my beloved did risk near death by chorusing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea


lynette said...

I usually let all the tasks I set for myself overwhelm and immobilize me. Then I try to do everything at the last minute. I eat the whole way through. This morning I noticed the overwhelmedness (my new word) has a physical component.

Bea, you are singing my song here. I always think one day, i'll just pick up and do things as they come along, put off nary a thing, just get things done so i'm peaceful and happy and content.

it hasn't happened yet and your description of the physical component of overwhelmedness :-) is perfect.

i have been fighting tiredness the last two days. it hits me about 2 in the afternoon and i fight to stay awake and at work. it makes me want to eat, the conflict between need-a-nap and need-to-work. i hate it.

one day i want to just flat out listen to what my body tells me i need and follow directions. i've never done it, or at least not with consistency.

now i AM going to go look at the back of my eyelids for a few minutes. maybe it will fill me up in a different way.


daisyk said...

Yup. Overwhelmedness could be my middle name as well. Frances Overwhelmedness Stressed-out Marie Bernadette (might as well get my Confirmation name in there for once while I'm at it). The God Chair is the very best place for it, as well as doing the thing you least want to do.

After that, I find setting a timer is helpful. Just 15 minutes, I say. Or pick up 5 things. Little increments.

The more I let lists control my life, the less I do. But I do so love being able to cross a thing off a list...sometimes I make a list at the end of the day of what I HAVE done instead.

Debra said...

Good job, Bea!

Of course, amongst all the profundity of learning to listen to yourself and give yourself exactly what you needed instead of punishing yourself twice -- by pushing to do more and eating -- all I could think about was the snow.

It's snowing.

Here in Chicago it's 90 and the building I live in is in the process of fixing the a/c; i.e., I ain't got none.

The thought of snow just blew my mind.


Cindy174 said...

I am just like you. And it was good to know I am not the only one who adds cleaning the entire house to the list of things to do before going on a trip. I am glad you took your time in the prayer chair. You reminded me to take care of the spiritual first and the rest will follow. Overwhelmedness. Happens all the time around here. The only way I get out of it is to break things down into little bits. Thank you for posting about this.

Andrea K said...

I got the ranting comment you received from Anonymous, too. I wonder if Anon. is targeting AFG-linked blogs.
Just so you know, when you view the comments when you're signed in to your account, there's a little garbage can with each comment. Click on it to delete the message.

Anyway, it is so great that you were able to stop and nurture yourself in your prayer chair instead of food. I really need to learn to nurture myself like that, and I may have to copy your idea.

Good luck with planning for your trip and getting everything done. I have to admit I do pretty much the same thing.

tiger said...

I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.